Foam Rolling during the warm up: an added benefit or waste of workout time?

Over the last decade self myofascial release has become a popular modality to relieve muscle soreness following exercise. Recently it has begun to appear in the warm up, with individuals postulating the potential benefits following the restoration of the normal length tension relationships. Despite the increase in popularity there appears to be a lack of clinical evidence to support the claims. A recent study by Healey et al (2014) evaluated the effects of myofascial release with foam rolling on performance, using healthy recreationally active (Exercises 3-5x week) college individuals. Participants were split into 2 groups (group 1: foam rolling for 30 secs each muscle group, and group 2: planking for the same time as the foam rolling group). Following warm up individuals performed 5 athletic tests and commented on levels of muscle soreness and fatigue. The study found no significant differences between both groups with respect to the 5 athletic tests, there was no improvement in performance found in either test group. with regard to levels of fatigue the foam rolling group noted significantly lower levels than the planking group. ultimately individuals are looking for the most effective way to improve performance, with regard to foam rolling it was not found to be of any additional benefit to performance, however if the individual is suffering from muscle soreness and fatigue the addition of foam rolling may give them a psychological edge, allowing them to perform a little longer during the session.

Healey, K. C., Hatfield, D. L., Blanpied, P., Dorfman, L. R. and Riebe, D. (2014). The effects of myofascial release with foam rolling on performance. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 28(1), 61-68